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Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture$
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Teodolinda Barolini

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780823227037

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823227037.001.0001

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The Wheel of the Decameron

The Wheel of the Decameron

(p.224) Chapter 11 The Wheel of the Decameron
Dante and the Origins of Italian Literary Culture

Teodolinda Barolini

Fordham University Press

The introduction to the First Day is the catalyst of the rest of the Decameron in that it defines the text's negative pole, the level of loss from which the brigata must recover. The reduction of Florentine society to grade zero is accomplished rhetorically through the introduction's portrayal of two discrete stages of loss which together bring about total collapse; the narrator concentrates first on the loss of ingegno and secondly on the loss of compassione. Crudele, the word contrasted with compassione throughout the plague description, signifies for Boccaccio a destructive autonomy, an inhuman desire to preserve the act of all costs.

Keywords:   Florentine society, Decameron, Boccaccio, plague, compassion, loss

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